Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wuck Teh Fhat?

Yeah, so I wake up this morning at my usual time, which is like 3:30 a.m., and I come downstairs and start the coffee and I check out the window and see it's not raining and I'm all Cool! I can get that last run in, and then I get my coffee1 and I go downstairs and "fuck about", as the Klassy Brits would say, on the Mac, actually going so far as to plot out my run beforehand on MapMyRun, and then I head back upstairs, strap on my (WAIT FOR IT!1!) dildo iPod, put on my reflective vest, strap on my (WAIT FOR IT!1!) back-up dildo because, hey, you never know when dildo-failure might occur and you should always have a spare locked and loaded to save time hydration belt and I head to the door and open it and ... it's fucking raining.

Is this a new thing? When did this happen? That it can be not raining and then, an hour later, raining cats and dogs? Because I never agreed to this arrangement.

So, anyroad, I stare outside for a moment or two and ask myself the only Question That Matters: WWSQD (What Would SteveQ Do)? And the answer seems obvious: He'd definitely run in that shit. And so it stands to reason that the only rational thing to do is abort my run, which I immediately decide to do.

It was with some regret that I made this decision because it means that I will not hit my September2 goal of 100 miles run.

And so here are my September numbers:

Running Miles: 94.42

Walking Miles: 38.93 [Updated, 2:45 p.m.: 41.54 miles now because I didn't think I'd be able to get out there for my lunch time walk but it turns out it wasn't raining at lunch time so I got my 2.61-mile walk in and I didn't bring a walking T-shirt in today cos I figgered no way was I gonna walk so my regular shirt is kinda stinky now but I'm not on the desk today so the # of people who'll be affected by my stank is minimal. Assuming they survive.]

Riding Miles on my P*ssy-@$$ Recumbently-Emo Exercise Bike: Zero3

Pathetic as that seems — I mean, five-and-a-half miles short of 100? Come on! — I think it was smart of me not to push it; because the Bigger Goal this year is to make it to 1000 miles and right now I've run 800.03, which means I have three whole months to run a mere 200 additional miles. Now, my lowest-mileage month was April, in which I ran 80.15 miles. If I average that — 80 miles per month — for the last 3 months of 2010, I will end up having run 1040 miles for the year, by my (by no means infallible) calculations. And I figure the only way I would not be able to do that is if I were to injure myself ... by, say, running in the rain at 5 in the morning when it is still pitch black outside, or, as Ian would say, "pitch African-American", because he thinks "African-American" is cognitively synonymous with "black" in all contexts, which I think might get him into trouble at some point, like if he were, say, at a diner and were to say, innocently, "Could you please pass me the African-American pepper?" which I, in my mind's eye, can actually see him doing. It doesn't end well.

So to recap: I did NOT run this morning and I "let discretion be the better part of valor", which is a saying we pussies have and adhere to almost as faithfully as we do our other saying: "Wait! Look over there! [runs pussily away]"

And so I probably won't run again until Saturday, when I have a 10k race, which, though a real race, is also a virtual race, because Barefoot Canuck Neil Z. is sponsoring this like 10-on-10/10 (his birthday) virtual race, the rules to qualify for which are ridiculously liberal, with the notable exception of the one that states that the miles (or kilometres) you run should be actual not "virtual", which seems kinda arbitrary but, then again, Neil is Kanadian, so there you go. But anyroad, those 10k on Saturday will be the 10 I run for this 10-on-10/10 thing because the miles you run for this 10-on-10/10 thing don't even have to be on October 10th, a condition that could only make sense to a Kanadian.
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And so now, in honor of Ian, here's the Great Rolling Stones Song, "Paint It,4 African-American"
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1 I'm telescoping the time-scheme here for you, which is something all of us Great Writers do, because the coffee didn't really finish brewing that quickly and I'm pretty sure you don't want to know what-all took place between the time I started the coffee and the time it finished brewing because most of it is pretty boring and marginally disgusting, what with all the n*ts@ck-scratching and horking-up of a nighttime's accumulation of phlegm and the ... um ... let's just say informal measuring of certain appendages (it grew another inch overnight!) etc.

So I spared you all of that and much more, for which you are so fucking welcome, not that I can recall your thanking me, ya buncha ingrates.

2 In truth, not merely my September goal. It's what I shoot for every month. And yet I've managed to do it only four times this years: in March, June, July and August. Got close in January and now September. But close don't cut it where I come from, which must be Pussyville because who doesn't run just because of a little rain?

3 Because Morrissey, aka my P*ssy-@$$ Recumbent Exercise Bike, is still broken and in need of welding. And even though Teh 'Bride talked to the guy at Art's Welding3a — presumably Art himself — who said we could bring it in to be welded any time, that was about a month ago and we still haven't done it.

3a (Which I for some reason insisted on calling "Creamer Smoothing" because "Art's Welding" reminded me of the company George Costanza used to work for where nothing got done, the name of which fictional company I just looked up, and it's actually Kruger Smoothing, so I was getting it wrong all along because I'm a fucktard.)

4 Yeah, this footnote is for that comma, because it's not a mistake — at least it's not my mistake; Keef claimed it was the record company's — because it's right there in the title as it appears on the record and the record's jacket, even though it, the comma, makes no sense, unless Keef and Mick were trying to tell some dude named "Black" to "Paint It", which brings up the secondary, but possibly more pressing, question: Is the titular "it" what I think it is? Because if it is, I'm here to tell all you dudes out there: Do NOT paint it, no matter how many rock stars exhort you to, because if you get paint ... let's just say inside "it", it fucking hurts and don't ask me how I know this, but let's just say I'm the voice of experience here, and leave it at that.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pardon My Contumely

Okay so first of all to get this out of the way: I ran 6.31 miles at a 9 minute pace this morning to bring my monthly total up to 94.42 miles, so I have to run just a little over 5 and a half miles tomorrow to get to 100 for the month. And it's supposed to rain tomorrow.

Fucking weather.
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So the other day I finish my last shift of the month on QandA-NJ (state-wide, online chat-type reference service), and I decide to do what I normally do, which is e-mail my stats to the Branch Manager who is in charge of keeping QandA stats; and I'm pretty friendly with this particular Branch Manager — in fact, she's the one whom I trusted enough to bitch to when things weren't going that great at the job and having that outlet probably prevented me from doing anything really stupid ... so far ...

Anyroad, I send her my stats in my usual obnoxious way, by writing, "Hey Derrick1! I had 8 questions this month, which I bet is more than you had or any of the other QandAers here, and if that turns out to be true when they send you their stats, you have to send them all an e-mail saying, 'You're all a bunch of effin' LUUUUZERS because Heisenberg bested you yet again, ya fucking LUUUUUZERS!' And you have to call them 'luuuzers' twice because they should feel the full weight of your contumely!"

And almost immediately she e-mails me back, "'Contumely'? I was gonna point out what a luuuzer you are, but I was too busy looking that one up."

And I was like, "Read your Shxpr, Derrick! It's right there in the 2B ur ~2B soliloquy:
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th’ oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of disprized love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th’ unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin?
So take that quietus and stick it in your bare bodkin!"

And then I didn't hear back from her and now for some reason I'm being forced to go to a "seminar" for "sensitivity training"! Like I'm not already fucking sensitive enough!1!2

But anyroad, I love that word: contumely. I think I may've actually used it once or twice on this very blog. And the "To Be or Not To Be" soliloquy really is where I first saw it and remembered it from. I'm not even sure when. Probably early in my undergraduate3 career, such as it was.

And there are just a ton4 of reasons that I like that word and have actually incorporated it into my own vocabulary. Because there are lots of Shakespearean words - just  in the "To Be or Not To Be" speech alone - that I could have glommed on to, but haven't; because when was the last time you heard me or anyone else going on about "disprized love" or "fardels" or "orisons" or being "sicklied o'er" or our dread "quietus"?

But to me contumely was always different because, though a noun, it sure as shit looks like an adverb, what with that -ly going on there, and but so it's a bit of a shock when you realize that to adverbalize it you hafta go all contumeliously, which just seems seems kinda ridiculous, not to get all contumelious (adjectival form) on you or behave contumeliously. But the thing about contumely is it's useful because it's basically a synonym for rudeness or arrogance, but it's better than those because if you use it you can just kinda stop people in their tracks and make them go Whoa! like Keanu Reeves. Because no matter how inarticulate its verbal surrounding, contumely can save your ass from looking idiotic. E.g., if you react to an insult thus: "Well ...! Pffttt! I'm ... you know, I don't ... if you're gonna ... I mean I'm not gonna, y'know, just fucking sit here and ... you know, uh, put up with, endure your ... your ... your ... contumely" ... nobody keys on how inarticulate that string of caveman grunts5 was; they instead just go, Whoa, better not spar linguistically with this dude because he just said "contumely" and evidently knows what it means!1! and then that person kinda backs away from you slowly lest you break out the fardels and go all quietus on their ass, would'st thou givest me a high-five, pray?

And so where are you going with this? the three of you who've stayed with me thus far might well ask. A fair question. But I'm not there yet.

When I was a kid of like 25, I asked for a copy of the newly-updated Jerusalem Bible for my birthday, which made Teh 'Dad really happy because this was a Catholic translation and therefore by definition better than ANY OTHER IN TEH WORLD; and Teh 'Dad was even happier when I spent that whole summer reading it cover-to-cover6, which was the second most unrewarding reading experience I ever endured7 or, I should say, inflicted on myself. Because I just read it straight through and never stopped to like write down my thoughts about any of the individual Books or even chapters or passages. I just bulled my way through.

And if you don't think about what you read - which for me basically means writing about it, because that's the only way I can imposed some minimal organization on my inchoate thoughts - then pert near any benefit derived from the experience of reading something is almost immediately lost. This may not be everyone's experience with reading, but it sure is mine. And yeah I'm aware that with some of the Books of the Bible there really isn't a whole lot to say. Some of it is just out-and-out boring and a total slog to get through and no amount of thinking or writing about it is gonna change that. I mean, Deuteronomy? Proof postive that even God occasionally uploads a boring post. 'Nuff said.

But there's just tons of stuff I wish I had given more thought to while I was reading the Big B.; I should have kept a journal or something, but I didn't, and it is extremely unlikely that I will live long enough8 to want to read the whole of the Bible again. So that's a nonstarter, right there.

But my e-mail to Derrick the other day and the whole contumely thing reminded me that I have for some time now been kicking around this idea of spending a season (or however long it takes - a full year?) reading all of Shakespeare's plays9. Because I've read fewer than half of them and I've always felt that it would be an enriching experience to read them all.

But what would be the point of reading them if I didn't retain anything meaningful about them?

And the only way to do that, as I said, would be to write about them.

Now do you see where I'm going?

Because as you, my faithful readers, well know, I am constantly looking for new and better ways to alienate you all and - hell, why be coy? - just generally irritate you and piss you off. And it seems to me that there can be no better way to do that than use this very blog to inflict upon y'all my thoughts re: Shaxberd's plays. And so it is my intent, starting, roughly, in January 2011, to begin reading all of Shxpr's plays and then write something or other about each in a post in this here already extremely off-putting blog.

That is my intent. It may never happen because who knows if I'll find the time or have the patience and endurance to do it? But you've been given over three months' warning, and that is plenty of time to run screaming from this evil place and find shelter10.

Because I think even the relatively "minor" Shakespeare plays will have a lot to teach me. One thing I'll definitely learn is whether writing about them will scare off the seven ... six ...five? of you all.

Now here is The Beatles' "I Am the Walrus"11:

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1 Her pseudonymous last name, not to be confused with her true last name which I'll never tell. But it rhymes with "Derrick".

2 Hahahahahaha! Just kidding. I'm pretty sure Derrick is still talking to me. God knows why.

3 I originally misspelled "undergraduate" here as "undergarent" and spellcheck wanted me to change it to "undergarment career". Pffftt! Shows you what spellcheck knows because I'm sitting here post-run, all sweaty, and (TMI ALERT!) I run commando, so WHAT undergarment career would spellcheck be referring to? Also, I have, as any regular reader of this blog knows, a Famously Flat Irish @$$, so who'd hire me as an undergarment model? I mean, unless Hanes comes out with a style of underwear for the ahem ... full-frontloaded male — like an all-codpiece, no-@$$cheek brand. Then I'm your man.

4 = four because in my world each reason weighs roughly 500 lbs.

5 Hey there, caveman j'og and cavewoman B'Ogg!

 6 SPOILER ALERT!1! for those of you who haven't read it: Turns out, God did it. But he had an accomplice - His own Son!1! Dunt-dunt-duuuuuuuuh!1!

7 The most unrewarding experience having occurred roughly two summer previously, when I "read" Finnegans Wake from cover to cover. "Read" in quotation marks because whether or not I read it depends on how you define "read": If you have a lax definition - i.e., "looking at each black mark on each of the 600+ white pages" qualifies as "reading" - then I read it; but if your definition entails there be some level of understanding of the text perused, then I definitely didn't read FW. And I "read" it only because I love James Joyce and wanted to be a completist and, with Joyce, that means tackling Finnegans Wake. Which of course means a few weeks of low-level insanity.

8 I'd definitely have to beat Methuselah's record of 969 years, which is awesome and not just because it includes a 69, but that's a big part of it (She Spake Thusly!). 

9 Of which there are now 38, since Two Noble Kinsmen has been considered canonical for a few decades now, at least. 

10 Pffftt! Typical.

Pussies.

11 And here's why it is marginally relevant to this topic:

John wrote "I Am the Walrus" as a reaction to learning that some academics were studying and teaching Beatles' lyrics as poetry. "Let 'em try to make sense of this," John sneered.

One of the things he did during the recording of this song was leave a radio on so that the feedback and static would be added to the mix. Turns out the radio was tuned to a BBC production of King Lear, and at the end of "IAtW" (beginning at roughly the 3:50 mark) you can clearly hear these lines from Lear Act IV, Scene V in the background:
Oswald
Slave, thou hast slain me: villain, take my purse:
If ever thou wilt thrive, bury my body;
And give the letters thou find'st about me
To Edmund Earl of Gloucester, seek him out
Among the British party: O, untimely death.
(Oswald dies)


Edgar
I know thee well: a serviceable villain;
As duteous to the vices of thy mistress
As badness would desire.


Gloucester
What, is he dead?


Edgar
Sit you down father, rest you.

This is the scene in Lear in which Edgar (disguised because he's been wrongly banished by his father, Gloucester, and is here helping Gloucester despite the mistreatment he has received at his father's hand) kills the servant Oswald and notes that Oswald was a "good" servant in that he did whatever his mistress (the "bad" daughter Goneril) asked of him, even when what she asked was evil. But of course, one of the major questions in Lear is ... what makes a for good servant? (Which is part of the larger theme about the nature of the bond between people: parent-child; husband-wide; servant-master.) At the beginning of the play, servant Kent is banished by Lear for daring to tell Lear that he is being foolish by dividing up his kingdom (which Lear is) but, as a truly good servant, Kent returns, disguised, to keep serving his master even in the latter's folly. Sometimes, a good son/daughter/spouse/servant should be defiant - this is a major theme in Lear; it's just all over the place.

But then that theme turns almost tragicomical at the end when Kent evidently believes that the time has come for his Big Reveal and is trying to tell Lear "Hey, Lear! It's me! Kent! Remember that dude Caius, your servant? Came on board right about the time I 'left'? Him? That was me! Dude, that was totally me in disguise!" Meanwhile, there's Cordelia lying there dead, and Lear's all, "Got a dead kid here, Kent, this isn't exactly about you!" and Kent's all, "Ooooo, yeah, right. Sorry! We'll talk later."

But the point is there's just a whole lot going on in this play (and in "I Am the Walrus", for that matter) and I am kinda dimly aware of this fact because I have not only read Lear a few times, but written about it. And that kinda clarifies some things ... while clouding others. But I think there's a whole lot more out there to be learned and so why not start at the top, with Shakespeare?

And if doing that comes across as contumely, So Be It.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Rally Towels

Another Phillies Post, so this here graphic seems apropos:

Uh, by the way, I didn't make that graphic. You'd be surprised how easy it is to find "No Keef" graphics out there on the Interwebs. Or maybe you wouldn't be.

Ahem. Anyroad ...

So ... Teh Phightins won their division last night by beating the Nats 8-zip behind Doc Halladay's pitching (another shutout; another complete game; gave up only two hits, both singles1). The game wasn't televised (for those of us in Mid-Northish Joisey), but it didn't really matter for me because I was working the Reference Desk last night and surreptitiously "watching" the Phillies game on phillies.com; and so Ian calls the desk at like 7:40 to ask what the score is and I tell him 1-zip Phils, which it was at that point. And he sez, "Okay, bye" and hangs up2.

Now, Ian called me last Monday night, as well, but only to tell me to stop watching the game online because for some reason, the MLB network, which is a premium network you gotta pay extra for, was showing this game for free, which they occasionally do, just to entice you into paying for the whole season, which is gonna work with us because Ian and I have already decided we're shelling out for ALL the Phillies games next year because "watching" on the computer basically blows.

So Ian wanted me to wait until I got home to watch because he was recording the game. But HE kept watching until the Phils took a 3-1 lead and then he stopped. (They ended up winning 3-1.)

Anyroad, last Monday, the Phillies were playing the Braves, with whom we were in competition for first place in our division. And it was at Citizens Bank stadium in Philadelphia. And the Phillies gave all 45,000 attendees rally towels, which, in case you don't know, are these:



And so Ian, not having an Official Rally Towel, was waving Kleenexes in the air, and by the time I got home, there was a pile of wounded and torn Kleenexes all around the living room coffee table and Teh 'Bride's sitting amidst them and saying, "Those are Ian's Rally Towels."

By the next night, we were savvy enough to figure out that dish towels make much better Rally Towels. And we even have some reds ones — red and white being the Phillies' team colors.

This may sound obsessive, but it's not really, because here's some context:

"Rally", Teh Human Rally Towel:



Yeah, you know it's a Fox station when, upon hearing there's a "Granddaughter Baby Rally Towel", the news anchor feels the need to ascertain whether R. Towel is married because, evidently, Fox don't want to sponsor no Welfare Queen Bastard Towels.

Ahhh, Fox!
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1 At this point I should perhaps repeat this:


... just in case Keef thought I was kidding above and kept reading after the first warning. Because this post is only gonna get more Phillies-laden as it goes along.

2 When I got home, I asked Teh 'B. if she even knew he'd called and she said she knew and told him he could because Ian told her, "Dad said I could call him if it was before 7:30" — quick look at the clock, which reads 7:40 — "I mean, 7:45."

I don't mind him calling me at all, but we never had this conversation, which the more astute among my seven readers have probably already figured out on their own.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Philadelphia Phillies are Effin My World Up

Now that it's getting down to the nitty-gritty in the baseball season, more and more of the Phillies games are showing up on channels that even those of us who live in the NYC-controlled areas of Joisey1 can view. And when I can actually watch a Phillies game on TV, instead of on my computer (where it looks like this), you can bet I do it.

But that means I'm staying up later than I usually do (sometimes till as late as 10:30, 11:00 p.m, on a school night!), which leaves my flat Irish @$$ tired of a morning; and worse still, it leaves me little spare time to do anything else. And the Phillies-related infringement on my spare time is even worse because Ian is excited that the Phillies are doing well, too, and so when I get home from work, he's like, "Dad, let's go out back in the field and you hit me pop-ups." And I'm like, "Have you done your homework?" And he's like, "Way to suck, Dad!"

So then I have to help him with his homework and then maybe we'll eat dinner and then I'll say, "Okay, Ian, we can play, but only twenty minutes, because I'm tired!" And then we'll play for an hour. Then come in and it's nearly 7:00 p.m. or maybe already past and then the Phils are on, and even if they're not on TV, I'll "watch" them downstairs on my Mac and Ian will join me.

And so like two weeks ago, while working the Reference Desk, I got into a discussion with one of the other Reference Librarians here and the library had just received the new Jonathan Franzen book, Freedom, and this other librarians was singing the praises of The Corrections and I said, "Yeah, I've never read any Franzen, but I always meant to." And of course, as always happens when a popular author releases a new book, all copies of Freedom in the library system are checked out and they have like a bajillion holds on them. So people start checking out the author's older titles; and so of course all of our copies of The Corrections are out and have many holds on them now too.

But so like this other librarian brings in her personal copy of The Corrections and lends it to me. And soon after that, we (me; Ian; Teh 'Bride) went on our weekend vacation to the shore and I started reading The Corrections late on Saturday afternoon and by the time we came home on Sunday evening, I had read about 110 pages of it because it's really good.

Well, thanks to the Phillies, I'm still reading it (I'm about 380 pages in now; it's over 550 pages in length). And in the meantime, I have like 7 other books, mostly novels, sitting on my night table, mocking me. Will you ever get to us, you luuuuuzer? And I'm like, I swear, once the Phillies win the World Series, I will read ALL of you!

Because like a month ago, jiif recommended The Death of Bunny Munro by Nick Cave, and I took it out and was going to read it after I finished The Kraken, but started The Corrections instead, and now Bunny has come due and I tried to renew it but someone fucking has a hold on it so I have to return it tomorrow. And today I just got in The Thousand, which I don't even remember putting a hold on, and I already have out The Help, Broom of the System, and Brilliant: The Evolution of Artificial Light; plus about three other books that I own that I have been trying to get to but that I keep having to shift to the bottom of the pile.

I'm also like two weeks behind on my Daily Shows and Colbert Reports.

And it's all because of the Phillies.

Who haven't even clinched the division yet.
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As I'm running the last part of my 8-mile run on Saturday, Ian joins me for the last loop back to our house because he just got this new Phillies jersey and these new cleats:


He and Teh 'Bride found that Ryan Howard jersey at some store for TEN BUCKS!1! Stupid luuzer store-owner was selling Mets and Yankees stuff  for real money, but the Phillies stuff? Pffft! TEN BUCKS!1! So Now Ian has a Howard, Halladay AND Utley jersey. He's going to be a Phillie for Halloween, but it remains to be seen just which one.
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I managed to run 7.11 miles in the rain today, so if I can manage another 12 miles between now and the 30th, I'll make it to 100 for the month.
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1 By this I merely mean that we get New York's stupid fucking channels, which means I could watch Mets games all seasons; and/or Yankees games, but I, being a Philly boy, dislike the former and actually kinda hate the latter because the latter - i.e., the Yankees - are kinda the Darth Vaders of baseball and I've never understood why anyone who doesn't live in the Bronx would like them or root for them. I understand why Bronxers root for them; it's their team, based where they live. But I am always genuinely surprised when I learn of someone from, say, Idaho or Iowa coming out and admitting to being a Yankees fans: "The Yankees are in the World Series this year and MAN I really hope they win, not because I hate the other team, but because I really like the Yankees!1!" To me, this is the baseball equivalent of learning that a little child has been abducted and choosing to root for the abductor. There is just something fundamentally wrong with liking the Yankees (unless you're from the Bronx).

Plus, the Yankees play in the American League, aka, the girl league, where pitchers don't have to bat because they're pussies and so they go and get their bigger bodyguard boyfriends to bat for them. And so it's a good thing for American League players that, in baseball, you get to grab a bat every once in a while because that probably makes up for the fact that these guys just don't have dicks.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Getting You Up To Speed On My Slowness

This being nominally a running blog, — in part, at least — I should probably throw y'all a bone and talk about something running-related; but I don't have much to say on that front — just the usual boring stuff, which here you go:

Yesterday I ran 8.11 miles at a pace so glacially slow that I'm not even going to tell you what it was. No! Not even if ONE MEEEEELION commenters comment on this post, begging "Please, please tell us! We have so little in life and you have soo much! I mean, you got that rockin n*ts@ck and ... well, the n*ts@ck's basically it, you got nothing else, you're basically just one big blogging n*ts@ck, but tell us anyway, you dick!"

Fuck you, one MEEEELION commenters. No. Also, which is it? Am I a Giant N*ts@ck? Or a dick? Make up your one MEEEELION minds!

Instead, I'll give you this: That 8.11-mile "run" (in quotation marks because it was that slow and barely qualifies as a run) brought my monthly run total up to exactly 81 miles; which means I probably won't get to 100 miles for this month; which will make September the first month I didn't make it to 100 miles since May, and you'll recall that in May I dislocated my shoulder, which justifiably turned me into a whiny little bitch and caused me to slack off in the running department and so at least I had an excuse in May, which I don't have for this month because most of my body parts have stayed where they belong, and the less said about where they belong the better, trust me. And I can't even blame this slackitude on others' body parts' infringing upon my body's personal space (which is just my polite and circumspect way of saying that I've had some foreign fingers up my personal @$$ this month because when you reach 50 every answer to every health-related issue is evidently stored somewhere up your @$$, which sux1, and I sure hope I don't discover, when I turn sixty, that those answers have migrated to the inside of my penis-shaft because I don't care how slender a doctor's finger is, that examination is gonna really hurt) because my @$$ was also thus violated in August and I still made it to 100 miles that month despite being on a cruise for 5 of those August days.

So I suck. But not just yet I don't.

Because it is just barely possible that I will get it together enough to run three more times before the end of this month — tomorrow (Monday), Tuesday and Wednesday, I'm thinking. And if I do that, I should be able to run 19 miles in total. We'll see.

But here's the good news. Right now, I've run 786.61 miles this year. If I can keep from injuring myself (or, as I like to call it, "pulling a SteveQ"2), I should be able to make it to 1000 miles for the year. That would be a big deal for no other reason than that I say so. Because, no, I take no comfort in knowing that I've already run 1265.92 Kanadian miles (aka, "pussy" miles; aka "kilometres"); I'm an American and I like to do things the American way, which means loudly, rudely and jingoistically (<-- which is a word my spellcheck thinks is wrong and suggests I change to "linguistically" which makes me think this may well be my spellcheck's first visit to this blog because since when is anything done "linguistically" here, unless you count linguistic atrocities?).

But anyway, there's some running stuff for you because I haven't done much blogging about it lately possibly because it's really hard (that's ... etc.) for a Giant N*ts@ck to type. At the end of the month, I'll be sure to let you know whether or not I made it to 100 miles. Having said I could, I guess now I'll have to. And if I do, man! am I ever gonna be rude when I gloat about it! It will be my goal to make all 2500 human inhabitants of Kanadia cry3.
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1 I'm referring to the storage of health data up the @$$, here. I don't mean to imply that my actual @$$ sux in any but a metaphorical way.

2 No, RBRnot in the same sense that you mean that phrase.

3 Easiest way: Remind them that they live in Kanadia.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Nobody Visits, Nobody Grieves



From the Timeline on the Official Ray Davies Web Site:
January 4th 2004 - Ray shot while pursuing a thief who had snatched the purse of his companion in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Ray recuperates in New Orleans hospital where he writes the Morphine Song and others.

No less a rock-poet authority than Pete Townshend famously considered Ray Davies a "poet laureate" because he "invented a new kind of poetry and a new kind of language for pop writing that influenced me from the very, very, very beginning". Townshend didn't call Davies merely a rock poet; but rather a POET ... full-stop.

It's hard to argue with this assessment1.

The knock against Ray Davies— as I wrote elsewhere, in a post that no longer exists — was always that his songs could tend toward the nostalgic, including, I guess, the sentimental. But that tendency is also a large part of the reason Davies is such a great composer: "Morphine Song" (from Davies' 2007 album Working Man's Café) skirts that territory — it could easily have fallen into the trap of becoming, on the one hand, either mean-spiritedly sarcastic (the noting of Nelson's "perfect mullet" could have devolved into ridicule, but doesn't); or, on the other, lachrymosely sentimental (with the character of Brenda the alkie, who is too complicated and well-limned to be that one-dimensional) — but manages, instead, to be deeply affecting and thoughtful and heartfelt; and it could only succeed if Davies took that chance, which he almost always did, both in his solo songs and with the songs he wrote for the Kinks. He probes deeply into his characters' inner lives, taking the chance that he might thereby become off-puttingly sentimental about them.

Even though this song was inspired by Davies experience in a New Orleans intensive care ward after he had been shot by a mugger, the song itself is not really about the "I" of the song, its first-person narrator: The narrator, like Davies himself, is an acute observer of the behavior of the people around him, with an eye for the telling details, both small and large, that are revelatory about their interior lives, about what makes them tick.

He can hear their hearts beat.

Listen to my heartbeat
Yeah, all fall down
Someone help me
Off of the ground
Listen to my heartbeat


The song starts off with a heartbeat (the narrator's own2) and a "London Bridge Is Falling Down"-like children's rhyme, sung in a child-like, sing-song way, which sets a certain tone for the song as a whole, suggesting that is will be about basic, essential, fundamental themes — which, indeed, it is.

In the first verse, Davies introduces the characters of Nelson and Starr, who on a certain level represent the life force; and in the next verse, Brenda "the alkie", who is afraid she is dying3, and with whom the narrator clearly identifies:

And opposite me
Brenda the alkie
Coughs so deep
It's the drugs
And the drink
It could happen to anyone
Sure makes me think


At almost exactly the halfway point of this 4:20 song — at, in other words, its very heart — it's heartbeat-like rhythm stops after the narrator notes that the bed beside Brenda "[i]s full of cables and leads/ Nobody visits/ Nobody grieves".

The caesura effectively underscores the especially devastating nature of this image: Cables and leads are lines that enable connections — between machines, between various types of technological equipment, and, when used for computer networks, they enable connections between people ... but here, in this image, they lie in disuse on a bed next to Brenda, who is alone and disconnected from anyone else.

Nobody visits. Nobody grieves.

Davies plants, at the very heart of "Morphine Song", this very basic, irreducible and, I would guess, nearly universal fear that we are all alone in the world; that nobody cares or even notices us when we're alive and that nobody will notice or care when we die. The fear that Brenda's fate is our shared fate.

And even though the slow heartbeat of the song starts up again with the life-affirming image of Nelson and Starr ("He's got ten grandkids/ She's the third missus"), we soon witness Brenda's heartrendingly sad departure:

They wheel her out
She starts to cry
"If I don't get better
I'm gonna die
I'll go cold turkey
Till I'm clean
I'll go to jail —
But you get the morphine"


Even if she recovers, she evidently has a jail sentence hanging over her4 and she envies the narrator because his wound allows him the morphine anodyne that Brenda herself — who has nothing else in the world — is no longer allowed.

The refrain "Listen to my heartbeat" is nothing less than a plea that someone notice your existence, and in the end, Davies asks us to notice Brenda, see that she's fallen down, care enough to want help her off of the ground. He asks us to acknowledge that it is our job to care and to help. Because it could happen to anyone. Even you.

And caring, helping is how you prove that you have a heartbeat.
_______________

It's this compassionate humanism in Davies' songs that I, for one, find so compelling and affecting. Because in the end, it's up to us to prove that it's just not true that "Nobody visits/ Nobody grieves" — in this instance, Ray Davies was there to listen to Brenda; he wrote a song lamenting her passing, so that we all might grieve for her and for all the Brendas of the world, about whom nobody seems to care, whom no one will miss because nobody noticed them in the first place.

Davies gently reminds us that we should care — we need other people.

Because we all fall down; and when we do, we all need help off of the ground.
___________
The video with that stupid Dutch (or whatever it is) intro was the only one I could find on youtube that included the whole studio version of "Morphine Song". Sorry about that. The song itself starts about one minute in.
___________
1 In fact, the only persuasive argument I can come up with to contend with it is that perhaps Townshend himself should be the poet laureate of rock — but that speaks more to Townshend's considerable abilities and is in no way a knock against Davies' poetic skills.

2 Which, we're informed, is slow:

"Hey buddy, you know
You got a slow heartbeat"


3 And probably does die at the end of the song. At least, her death is strongly implied in the lines:

Listen to my heartbeat
Lalalala, lalalala
Yeah, listen to my heartbeat
Lalalala, lalalala
And the marching band song
Plays in the morgue
At the charity ward
Yeah, the marching band
Plays its song


4 Or it's possible she just views her upcoming stint in rehab as a prison sentence.

Friday, September 10, 2010

For You

In about two hours, we — Ian, Teh 'Bride and me — are headed downashore (as Flyers26 always sez) for the weekend for our last vacation of the year and so for all youse who will be stuck at home this weekend, here's some apropos Cee Lo Green for you:



O, I should probably add, possibly NSFW.

The official video (hilarious!):

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Welcome to The USSTUGA

Across this great country of ours, there are some things that many of us can agree on, such as, e..g., We Like Seeing Dr. Nic Get Kicked in Teh Face. But there are one or two weirdos out there who might object to this1, and their views, though obviously fucktarded, must be respected.

Alas, Dr Nic's dented face cannot truly Unite Us All.

There are other things that we can find virtually no consensus on, such as the burning question2: RBR: Chick? Or Tranny? A vocal minority still says "chick"3, a fact at which we, the non-deluded, can only shake our heads sadly.

So no, RBR's broad, boa-bedecked shoulders and duct-taped-into-submission penis cannot Make Us One, alas! adude!

And that is why I welcome you all to The USSTUGA, which, of course stands for:

The United States of Shoving Things Up Glaven's @$$

For, evidently, This Inexplicable Desire to See That Things4 Be Shoved Up My Personal @$$ — a desire that is sweeping the nation like a dance craze — is the only Genuinely Universal Thing that all5 can agree on.

Because when I arranged to have my yearly physical a couple of weeks ago, my usual doctor, Dr. Johnson6 , was not available. And so the doctors' office arranged for me to see Dr. D., who is a skirt, and who saw me when I dislocated my shoulder and I noticed at that time that she was slender and so she therefore also had very slender fingers and so when (getting back to the confab I had on the phone here to make my appointment for my physical) the receptionist asked me, re: getting a doctor other than Dr. J., if I minded being examined by a woman doctor, I assured her I did not judge doctors by their gender, or for that matter by any other irrelevant criteria, such as their medical qualifications.

I am 50. I judge doctors solely on the basis of finger-girth.

And Dr. D. was more than acceptable to me7.


And, as I mentioned in a previous PTSD-filled post about my physical, Teh 'Bride, just as I was leaving for the appointment, mentions that, what with my being a geezer and all, Dr. D. might recommend that I allow someone to ram a sea captain's collapsible telescope up my butt have a colonoscopy.

Which of course Dr. D. did suggest, which means that 100% of the women I spoke to that morning expressed an interest in my being anally violated.

So Dr D. did the exam, and she was gentle with me and her finger really was all I hoped it would be — i.e., thin and tapered — but here's the thing:

Men. I think most men do not share my method of choosing doctors to perform their physicals. I think most men would rather have a male doctor with Polish sausage-sized fingers examine them than have a woman do it, because they're pussies (the men, I mean) and having a woman do it would be embarrassing.

Which means female doctors don't get to do that particular exam much.

Which means they doubt their diagnostic skills w/r/t that particular exam.

Which, in my case, meant Dr. D. thought she may have felt something.

Which meant ... she recommended I see a urologist just to make sure.

Which meant — just yesterday — yet another exam of that type. But by a dude doctor, this time. A Big. Beefy. Dude.

Okay, it wasn't all bad, because as I drop trou and start to turn around, he says, "No, wait, I want to examine you up front first." And he does, and the first words out of his mouth are, "Whoa!"

And I'm all, "Well, thank you very much, doctor, but don't feel bad. I'm sure your wife loves you very much and you probably have other ways of ... let's just say 'attending to her needs'."

Hahahahahaha!

But no, seriously, he actually made me stare into the eye of my own penis while he pointed out this unusual characteristic which no one else had ever pointed out before and it was pretty interesting — I had never actually interfaced with my penis before; you know, really gotten to know it — and so that was kinda worth the price of admission and no I won't tell you what the penile anomaly was or post a picture of it.

And he asks me the usual questions, e.g., "How long does it take you to pee?" to which I said, "Well, it can take up to a minute-and-a-half for the urine to makes its way all the way out, doctor, but you see the length of pipeage it has to travel" and he said, "Yeah. Fair enough."

But the upshot is:

My prostate seems to be fine.
___________
1 Or they are, peradventure, just waiting till little Eddy develops the motor skills to roll himself lower down on the bed so he can kick Daddy in the nards because for some reason, Mommy won't just place him where he can get in a good nard-kick which would really wake Daddy up and if you have no idea what all this means then you really should have clicked through on that link above and watched the video.

2 That burning sensation is mostly in the genital area, for reasons about which there should be no real question.

3 Including, presumably, RBR's husband, but I do not know that for a fact.

4 Mostly doctors'4a fingers

4a At least, they said they were doctors when they bought me that drink at the bar. Da-dump-bump-CHEEE! Hiiiiiii-yoooooooooooo!1!

And they claimed it was their fingers ....


5 Except me.

6 Yeah, despite his name? He never actually uses his Johnson during the exam ... that I could tell, anyway. My back was turned to him at a certain critical juncture.

But I heard no zippers.

7 I was going to add, "Just as I would be receptacle to her", but I deemed that joke in bad taste and, really, it woulda kinda make it sound as though there were more going on than a digital exam and so it woulda made me sound like some kind of dirty whoo-wer whereas, in fact, I'm a classy whoo-wer.

And that's why I didn't add that.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sad

First Day of School

2010, Fifth Grade:
2009, Fourth Grade:
2008, Third Grade:
2007, Second Grade:
2006, First Grade:
2005, Kindergarten:

Watch his long, thin face get round and fat as he goes back in time!

Happy

Last night, Teh Phillies retook 1st place by beating the Marlins 8-7 (while the Bucks beat the Braves 5-0). Placido Polanco knocked in the go-ahead (eventually, the winning) run with two outs in the bottom of the 8th1.

I, being a resident of the part of Joisey that gets NY channels, did not get to see the game, so I stayed up way past my bedtime to "watch" avatars play it on the MLB virtual doohickey that's available at phillies.com and is (only slightly) better than nothing, I guess.

Anyway, one advantage(?) of the doohickey is it includes twitter feeds from knucklehead fans. And there is a steady stream of knucklehead tweets. So after Polanco knocked in that go-ahead run, I got to see him get some lurve, Philadelphia-style:


Now, in case you didn't click to embiggen that graphic above and thus didn't notice what that Phillies fan wrote down there in the right-hand corner, here it is, pre-embiggened for you (FYI: "POLLY" = Polanco):


Yep. That's a Phillies Fan.

I'll let you judge for yourself whether or not Placido has an oversized head:


That's a pic I took of Polanco when Ian and I went to the Phils v. the Giants game back on 8/18. (The Phils - as we say in Philadelphia - wan, 8-2.) He was tossing the ball he'd just been throwing with Wilson Valdez to a girl in the stands. (I damn-near intercepted that toss, till I realized it would probably make me seem like a total dick2. So I just took candy from the two-year-old next to me because no one was watching. He cried, but he'll keep his mouth shut about it if he knows what's good for him.)

No, our seats weren't as good as that pic suggests. Ian wanted to get there early enough to see the Phils' batting practice, so we got there like two-and-a-half hours before game time, but still managed to miss the Phils' batting practice (we saw the Giants', though), so we hung out behind the Phils' dugout. Ian brought a ball he'd bought especially to get Chase Utley's autograph; we saw Chase, but he wasn't giving autographs. No one was, it seems, other than Wilson Valdez.

The video below (WARNING: Turn volume WAY down, because there's a LOT of noise) is a hodgepodge of some of the videos I took that night edited together. It consists of:
  1. Me screaming like a girl when I caught my guy Raúl Ibáñez emerging from the dugout. It includes the world's worst RAUUUUUUUUUUULLLLLLLL! 4evah.
  2. Puffy-faced3 Ian showing me the ball that he'd just got Phillies utility infielder Wilson Valdez to sign.
  3. A video of Ian and Teh 'S-i-L, whom we met at the game, as we told her about Ian's getting W. Valdez's autograph.
  4. Domonic Brown's 8th inning pinch-homer filmed from our vantage point in Outer Mongolia. (Ian loved these seats. He wants us to sit there next time. "Next time" being some time this month, if all goes according to plan.)


________________________________________
1 This was far from a pretty win: The Phightins made two errors that resulted in three unearned runs and Madson wild-pitched another run in. I mention the wild pitch separately because, for reasons that could make sense only to baseball statisticians, wild pitches are not errors. If it had been determined that Phils catcher Carlos Ruiz should have caught that pitch and it was thus deemed a passed ball instead of a wild pitch ... that would have been an error and an unearned run. But Madson's wild pitch? Not an error and thus an earned run.

Got it?

I should also mention that one of the errors was a throwing error by Jayson Werth that cost us a run. The Phillies fans, in typical Philadelphia style, roundly booed Jayson ... who is normally an excellent fielder and has thrown more than his share of runners out at the plate, including one just the previous day.

But what have you done for us lately, Jayson?

2 Or, to put it another way, like a typical Philadelphia sports fan.

3 He'd climbed a tree with a fuzzy vine at his daycare and evidently the vine was poison something-or-other because we had to take Ian to the doctor for a steroid shot after his face and other parts of his body (including his n*ts@ck) began to puff up and itch. You can hear me say he doesn't "look so bad anymore", which is a reference to his face's puffiness, which had gone down considerably by this time.

Ian needs to listen to more Elvis, because Elvis was a Prophet and he warned against doing exactly what Ian had done.

Teh Prophecy Has Come to Pass.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ship of Fools, Part 5: Our Short-Lived Career As Grifters



Relatively early on in the cruise, Ian became convinced, because of a total fluke occurrence, that we should all quit our jobs — or, in his case, school — to become the latter-day equivalent of riverboat card-sharp grifters.

Here's how and why that happened:

On like day two of the cruise, we saw in that day's edition of the Fun Times — Carnival's liberally-biased, Marxist. lamestream daily newspaper, which, inexplicably, still hasn't endorsed the ticket of Palin/Hannity 2012, so QED on teh liberal bias right there — that there was going to be this Sports Trivia Contest outside the sports bar on deck five at 5:00 p.m.; and when Ian heard that, he said we had to go because he was delusionally convinced we would win. As with most — I daresay all — delusions, there is no basis in reality for his thinking that, other than that I know slightly more about sports than he does1.

But he was all, "Dad, you can beat them! I know it!" And I'm all, "Ian, we'll be playing against guys whose whole, pathetic lives are about hanging out at bars, drinking Miller Lite and quizzing each other about sports trivia. They'll basically hand us our butts on a platter."

But I figured the only way to get Ian to stop hero-worshiping me regarding my alleged knowledge of sports was to let him witness me abjectly failing firsthand2. And so he, Teh 'Bride and I went to the Sports Bar3 and grabbed one of the many nubby little miniature golf-type pencils and a sheet of paper and prepared to Play Sports Trivia!1!

And the Assistant Cruise Director who MC'd the contest was both a skirt and and a Kiwi and that is what we Yanks4 call "Having two strikes against you from the get-go5." But my purpose in pointing this out, other than to be obnoxious, is to clue you in to the fact that the questions asked in this Trivia Contest were largely about activities that Americans, especially Penile-Americans, aka dudes, wouldn't consider to be sports, strictly speaking. Things like "fütball" (which is what Kiwis and the rest of the uncivilized world call soccer, because they, like the Brits6, can't speak English) and tennis.

And to give you an idea of how poorly we were performing, we were getting questions like, "This famous football [i.e., soccer]  player, nicknamed 'Booter' ..."

I really don't have to include the rest of the question — which I don't remember anyway — do I? But rather than leave that question blank and thereby look ignorant, we put down the answer: "Booter McGee". Which was wrong.

You'd be surprised how many of our answers derived from our belief in a Secret Sports Hegemony by the Infamous McGee Family, whose existence we posited just so we wouldn't leave any questions fucktardedly unanswered. Because I think there was a "Famous" boxer question for which our answer was "Punchy McGee" and a tennis question for which our original answer was "Goat-fucker McGee" but we ultimately changed it to "Rod Laver" because we thought that would be more insulting7.

And of course every time the Kiwi Cruise Director asked, "So, how does everyone think they're doing? Good? Bad? Cahn't tell?" I'd give the old "thumbs down" gesture because I though we were sucking worse than The World's Worst Sports Trivia Contestant, the Notorious Sucky McGee.

But — long story short — we ended up getting 10 out of 20 questions correct, which, much to our surprise, tied us for the lead. And we ended up having a sudden death showdown with this other guy, coincidentally also from Joisey, and the question was an American football question about the former head coach of the Redskins, to which I knew the answer was "George Allen" but simply could not pull his name up from the disk in time and the other guy beat me by a split-second in a photo-finish8 that had everyone on the edge of their seats because they were impatient to leave because questions about "famous" fütballers like Booter McGee make pastimes such as wandering the Lido deck aimlessly sound like very attractive alternatives indeed.

And so we got second place, which won us THREE (one for Ian, one for Teh B. and one for me) of the medals you see below (no, I don't know where the third is) :

Which may seem like a chincy prize. Until you see what the guy who won got:

A plastic Ship-on-a-Stick, painted gold. Which we ended up in possession of because the guy who won didn't want it and tried to give it to Ian — who did want it — by saying, "You knew the answer to that last question, right?" And we raised Ian right, i.e stupid, because all he had to say was "Yes" but he gave an honest answer, which was "No". So the guy didn't give him the trophy.

But the next time we played Sports Trivia — and we again got 10 questions correct, which this time didn't put us anywhere near the money — the same guy won (with like 18 correct this time) and Ian went to congratulate him and this time the guy just gave him the stupid trophy.

We also played '80 Music Trivia — which was done kinda Name That Tune-style and which I sucked at because all of that music sounds the same when all you get to hear are the first 4 notes and none of the synthpop groups of the '80s was named "Crap-Music McGee" though they all clearly should have been and if they had been we'd've won — and I think we got 10 questions right yet again but the winners got like 18-and-a-half (giving themselves half credit for calling "What a Feeling" "Flashdance", which the foax next to us assured us was totally bogus and we pretended to care).

And so Ian reluctantly conceded that both his Dad and his Mom should keep their day jobs, because we'd all starve if we tried to make money as Trivia Quiz Contestants.

But he still thinks he should be allowed to quit school.
_______________
1 When, for example, I say to him things like, "Did you hear the TV guy just say 'Rollins went for the high cheese'?  'High cheese' is when the pitcher throws a high fastball just out of the strike zone and hopes the batter will chase it", he thinks I'm the only person in the world who knows that — a misconception I kinda don't even try to disabuse him of because it make me feel like A Big Man — whereas in fact it's just common baseball jargon, and you can pretty much grok its meaning from context even if you never heard it before.

But don't tell Ian.

2 It's possible he could have witnessed it secondhand, because Carnival Cruises all have Official Videographers2a going around videoing various events which are then shown on one of the TV channels on the ship. (This is their way of attempting to convince you to buy a DVD of all this videoed "fun" — the equivalent of Cruise Line High Cheese.)

By the way, the TV channels on the ship (from memory) were as follows:
  • CNN (Picture and sound froze all the time, which made watching CNN almost tolerable for a change)
  • CNN Headline News (Motto: The World Leader in Hiring Anchors Whose Desperation to Be Liked Is Palpable and Painful to Witness)
  • ABC and FOX affiliates from fucking Denver (Because when you're cruising on the Atlantic Coast, there's nothing you want more in your morning than news, weather and traffic reports from a landlocked state 2000 miles and two time zones away)
  • The Front-of-The-Ship Channel (Which broadcast LIVE!1! footage from the bow of the ship, 24/7. Where exactly zero was happening, 24/7)
  • The Pool Deck Channel (Bringing you Fat, Drunken Tourists on The Pool Deck, 24/7)
  • The Daily Videos Channel (Which was where they broadcast all the footage of the Fun Times You Were Having On Ship and was the channel where the trivia contest could theoretically have shown up, but didn't, because a Trivia Contest was evidently too lame and boring even for the ship's videographer to want to attend and video)
2a Accompanied by one or another of the many cruise directors, whose job it is to try not to look too bored while interviewing the half-drunk and probably-inarticulate-even-when-not-half-drunk cruisers, who, when asked, e.g., where they are from, usually offer such trenchant responses as: "Hoboken! Woooooooo--ooooooooooo-OOOOO! N*ts@ck-leather Tannery Capital of Teh World!1! HELLO JOISEY!1!1!"

Sorry! I'm so jaundiced. Because this is probably a too-harsh assessment of my fellow cruisers' level of articulateness because I for one did not know, until this cruise, that Hoboken was the N*ts@ck-leather Tannery Capital of Teh World. Because there I was, out on the pool deck everyday, like a total fucking CHUMP, tanning my own n*ts@ck the old-fashioned way, which, seriously, don't ask.

3 Actually, we sat just outside the sports bar — Ian is only 10 — on the sofas along the windows, near where the reggae duo often performed, because even though we were cruising north to Canada, it is evidently easier and more cost-effective to hire two-piece reggae bands doing Bob Marley covers than it is to find affordable two-piece ... O, let's say say ... Rush cover bands.

For which I thank God.

4 To be clear: "Yanks", here, in the sense of "Americans" — WHO RULE!1!1 — not in the sense of NY Yankees, who suck @$$.

5 Told you — in my last SoF post, which nobody read — that I myself am a bit of an Ugly American, and I ask you: What is uglier than misogyny and xenophobia (which, taken together = Fear of Xenia)?

But I hereby apologize to all skirts and Kiwis.

But not Xenia, because there are legitimate reasons to fear her.

6 Proof re: Teh Brits and their inability to speak English: The second Sports Trivia Contest we participated in — yeah, we did two — was run by a Brit-Chick; and one of her questions was about baseball (for a fucking change); but in reading it, she referred to the position "shotstop" as "shawt-stoppah".

Short-stopper.

Jebus Aitch Chryslerbuilding!

7 The actual question was something along the lines of, "In 2001, this famous ["famous"! Pfffttt! —ed.] Aussie tennis player called a line judge 'spastic' and was fined 1,000 pieces of whatever shiny rock it is they use for money in Australia." And I knew Rod Laver was Aussie, but I also knew that in 2001 he was like 90 years old, but I didn't care because who the fuck ever heard of Lleyton "Buy One 'L' And Teh Second Is Free" Hewitt? And so at least I got the nationality right so partial credit as far as I'm concerned.

8 I'm assuming here for the sake of my horse-race rhetoric that sounds can be photographed.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Ship of Fools, Part 4: Ugly Americans & The Ladder of Hope

Well, first off, thanks to all of you who offered kind words of solace on my last post. It's difficult to say which was the most touching, but Deb's (that's LuMu to her close friends) was especially thoughtful. And of course jiif's wins hands down for being the most oddly, impenetrably, cryptically gnomic.

But I thank you all.
__________
Unless you're willing to spend like thousand of dollars extra on your cruise, you will end up with a basic "stateroom", which means an inside (i.e., no window) one-room accommodation that's claustrophobically small1. The bed essentially takes up the whole room and it looks like this:
Ian and me in our "stateroom". Teh 'Bride took this pic from the corridor, next to the bathroom. I'm wearing my race shirt from the 3B 5-miler, like you fucking CARE!1!
The bathroom is even smaller, but much improved since the last time we cruised. The toilets are actual porcelain now, not metal; and although they still use mostly suction to whisk away your ... um ... leavings ... they are nowhere near as loud as they used to be. We spent hours preparing Ian for how scary the toilets would be2.

All for nothing, as it turns out. 

And you might be asking, Well, where did Ian sleep? as though it's any of your business, which it's not. But well okay, here:
Ian's freaking bed came out of the ceiling!
And Ian loved sitting up there in his bed because that ladder is of the hook-n-ladder variety and he could unhook it from the foot of his bed and pull it up onto the bed and then lower it again which he did with such dogged repetitiveness that I began to think we were going to have to have him tested for some sort of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

And on about Day Two, these ladder retractions and lowerings were accompanied by the announcement: "I am now lowering The Ladder of Hope" or "I am now raising the Ladder of Hope" until I was thisclose to saying I am now braining my only child with the Ladder of Hope to get him to shut teh eff up about the Ladder of Hope. And we don't know why he named it the Ladder of Hope, but his obsessive playing with — and chattering about — it sometimes turned our lower bunk into Teh Bed of Despair3.
_________
Why Ugly Americans — Of Whom You See PLENTY On Cruises — Suck 
Try as you might, on a cruise, you simply cannot escape encounters with Ugly Americans. And by "ugly", I don't mean fat or physically deformed, because we — Teh 'Bride and I — like those Ugly Americans. Because one of the first things we did after embarking was go to the pool deck and sit and veg and Teh 'Bride looked around at all the portly, flabby, tattooed women in two piece and even thong bathing suits and all the equally fat and be-tattooed men and she turned to me, laughing, and said, "I feel very thin." Which she actually is. 
What she meant to say is, next to these foax? She really had her Olive Oyl going on.
Teh 'Bride, Happy To See Her Fellow Cruisers in Bathing Suits
But by Ugly Americans, I mean nasty, mean-spirited, demanding, Assholish, Douchebag Americans, who, even when they're having their every whim catered to, are still not satisfied. And nowhere do you have your whims catered to more than on a cruise4

Teh 'Bride and I have kinda learned how to spot these people and avoid interacting with them, but you still can't help occasionally witnessing their tantrums and carryings-on and the nasty contumely with which they treat their inferiors, which is basically everybody, but mostly the poor crew/staff of the ship, who simply have to stand there and take it from these fuckwads.

On this past cruise, e.g., Teh 'Bride was in line at the Guest Services Desk while this woman went on and on trying to change the time of her dinner seating from late to early. Now, you are asked when you sign up for a cruise which seating you want and this woman admitted that she'd asked for the late seating. But now she — on a mere whim — had decided that 8:30 p.m. was too late and she wanted to switch. The only problem was the cruise was fully booked and times had been assigned and the woman behind the Guest Services Desk explained that there was just nowhere to put anyone else in the earlier seating because both seating were fully booked.

But this was not good enough for the asshole woman who had knowingly signed up for the later seating. Because, hearing that the only way she could be assured of having her whim met was if it were for a medical reason, she tried to argue that it was for such a reason and went on and on in this manner, getting outraged that she was being asked to provide evidence for this.

And the above, which really just pisses me off, is just a minor example of Ugly Americans At Their Worst. But the killer thing, for me, was ... there is food everywhere on a cruise ship, available at every hour of the day or night, and if you're really fat and lazy, there is even room service and you can have food brought to your cabin. So you can have dinner, essentially, any time you want.

And yet there are women like this douchebag woman taking up valuable time at the Guest Services desk — time that would be better spent dealing with cruisers with real problems, like needing crazy glue to glue the heel of their left sandal back together because it fell apart and was all floppy and made walking annoying and potentially dangerous ... which is why Teh 'Bride and I were in line because that seemingly hypothetical broken left sandal?

Was ... MINE!1!

DUNT-DUNT-DUUUUUUUUUHHHHH!1!!1!



And of course the Guest Services desk didn't have Crazy Glue which is a TOTAL FUCKING OUTRAGE AND MY CONGRESSMAN WILL HEAR ABOUT THIS DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME AND THIS WHOLE TRIP SHOULD BE COMPED AND YOU'RE KINDA CUTE SO HOW ABOUT A HAND JOB TOO WHILE YOU'RE AT IT!1!1!

But they did have duct tape and we were able to jerry-rig5 some doubled up duct tape between the layers of the heel so that the tape didn't show but held the heel together pretty well.

And while we were standing in line, this older — I'd estimate mid-60s — woman touched my arm and asked, "How tall are you?" And I gave my standard long-winded answer, which I use when Teh 'Bride is there because it's her fault I have to do this, which answer is:

"That depends on who you ask. I'm six-four, but that's not good enough for her [pointing at Teh 'B., here], because she always lies and says I'm six-five, which I am not. And so I compromise by telling people I'm six-four-and-a-quarter because that is exactly what they say I am every year at my physical and that is exactly how tall I am."

"Well, I just love tall men" [eye flutter] "because my husband, who passed a few years ago, was six-five and I think you're taller than he was" [and at this point it's becoming obvious that the nice older lady was a bit tipsy] "and [laying another hand on my arm, here] you [addressing Teh 'Bride, here] better be careful because I may steal him from you, tee-hee!"

And Teh 'Bride is making her I'm-trying-to-look-pleasant-here face, which is comprised of a fake smile coupled with snake eyes that are clearly saying, UNHAND MY HUSBAND, you BITCH, lest I claw your eyes out!1!

And I mention this incident only because it shows that one woman's Ugly American is another man's Nice American. Because I'm sure Teh 'Bride thought this lady was an Ugly American, but to me, she was great and had good taste in men and was, in fact, An American Hero, of sorts.

[bitterly] But where's her parade?

And for the rest of the cruise, any time I wanted to get under Teh 'Bride's skin? I'd just start singing:

I'm just a gigoloooooh
And everywhere I gooooooh ... etc.

Because I'm a bit of an Ugly American myself. 
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1 This should not present a problem unless you're one of those pathetic fucking luuuzers who'd spend more time than he absolutely had to in his "stateroom", and the only time you have to be in the stateroom is night-night time, to sleep. At all other times, there's plenty to do outside your cabin. 

But if you are one of those luuuuzers, just stop reading my blog right now and don't come back.

Wait, no don't. I can use every reader I can get. COME BACK, PATHETIC LUUUUZER!1!

2 Telling him, e.g., not to flush while sitting on it because it might rip both his wiener and his butt off. We had him on the verge of trying to hold it all in for 5 daze. Then we get there, and immediately flush the toilet for him and ... it was as anticlimactic as a newlywed's wedding night. "O, um, yeah, baby, that was greaaaaaaat. Man O man am I ever looking forward to 50, 60 years of that. No, that is not sarcasm you're hearing in my voice! But, um, we can throw away all those egg-timers we got as wedding gifts because I like a one-minute egg and now I've got an even better way of knowing when one minute is over ... Yeah, that time I was being sarcastic."

3 That's what she said!

4 Except maybe in my erotic dreams, the less said about which the better.

5 And it's at times like this that I really miss tfh because she would unfailingly leave a pedantic comment here pointing out that it's jury-rig not jerry-rig and just exactly which Ivy did I attend because they'll be wanting that diploma back ... or *shudder* did I go to a STATE university [clutching her pearls]My smelling salts and laudanum, quickly!1!

I miss joyRuN, too, and sometimes she corrects me and talks down to me, too, but not on issues of language because SHE BARE-RY SPEAK IN-GRISH!!1!

Hahahahaha! I'm such a DICK!1!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Frank, I Love You

Thee be fairly warned: This post may strike some people as a bit of a downer.
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Two bloggers — Sarah (D-MI) and Barefoot Kanadian Neil — tagged me to play this "Cherry on Top" game. I don't often play these games, but the main part of this one —

Answer the question: If you had the chance to go back and change one thing in your life, would you and what would it be?

— appealed to me, so I'll play:

Teh 'Dad, whom I often blog about, is schizophrenic. I don't mean that in the marketplace sense of the word, where people use it to mean something analogous to "having a dual personality" (which is kinda the opposite of what schizophrenia actually is); I mean it in the sense that Teh 'Dad, when he's not on his meds, hears voices, detaches from reality, and lives life totally inside his head where he's thinking ... well, God knows what.

But Teh 'Dad's story is basically a story of triumph, because he found Teh 'Mom, who stood by him through many trials (he'd be the first to tell you this) and they raised a family of seven kids, myself the sixth of the brood, and managed, despite it all, to give us a pretty normal and unremarkable (in the good sense) upbringing.

For Teh 'Dad, just leading a normal, quotidian life was — and is — a spectacular triumph.

Not so for my eldest brother Frank. Because Frank inherited Teh 'Dad's schizophrenia and Frank did not have quite the same coping mechanisms as my father. Frank died when he was 30. In fact, he committed suicide right after his 30th birthday.

And when Frank first started showing signs of this illness in early adolescence, Teh 'Dad was racked with guilt for having passed this curse on to his eldest son and did everything to try to help him, and was always saying to him, "Look at me! You can have this thing and still lead a normal life!"

What Teh 'Dad didn't quite get was that poor Frank was kinda hit with a double whammy. Because Teh 'Mom used to say that Frank also inherited her near-paralyzing self-conscious shyness, a predisposition Teh 'Mom overcame ... but then she was not schizophrenic. Just as Teh 'Dad overcame his schizophrenia ... but then, he was not pathologically self-conscious about it.

Frank, however, was acutely aware of, and self-conscious about, the fact that he was different, and not just "different" in the way all adolescents are; but different in that he heard voices, he was paranoid, he was not always in touch with reality.

But he was a gentle soul and just a GREAT older brother (his taste in music became mine, and even though I have different personal associations for lots of the songs I listen to, almost every song from the sixties that I hear reminds me of Frank) and so most of the anger he felt over being so different was directed inward and by the time I finally learned, when I was 15, what the actual deal was with Frank, he had already tried to kill himself multiple times.

But when I was 15 and Frank was about 21, we found him in the basement with multiple self-inflicted knife wounds; and my parents' attempt to shield their younger children from the reality of what Frank was going through could no longer be maintained.

It's amazing I never suspected anything before that, part of which can be attributed to my general obliviousness, which I still have in spades. But even though I knew my Dad tended to talk to himself at times and laugh uproariously at nothing funny that I could detect, little 7-, 8-, 12-year-old Glaven had no idea his own Dad was mentally ill. I thought all Dads laughed at nothing, because that's what my Dad did and he was a typical Dad and I loved him.

But after Frank's suicide attempt when he was 21, the veil came off and the rest of us kids finally knew what the deal was with him, with our family; because it couldn't be hidden anymore.

And both my Dad and Mom would tell Frank, from the time his symptoms first presented, "Just hang on! All the doctors say that by the time you're thirty, there will be new and better meds that will enable you to cope better and you'll be able to lead a full and normal life."

But in the meantime, Frank suffered and continued to try to end that suffering the only way he knew how — by attempting to kill himself. And his body became ravaged by his self-inflicted wounds — one suicide attempt caused him to have a stroke and left him partially paralyzed on his left side and made him slur his speech somewhat — and the boy who was so self-conscious about how he looked to the outside world that he would spend hours lifting weights in the basement and wouldn't leave the house with a hair out of place became an overweight, defeated man who just stopped caring and "solved" this problem by just never leaving the house.

And just before Frank turned thirty, he was living in a room in a halfway house out in West Philly; and he was impossible to talk to because he hated what he'd become and anything you said to him might cause him to launch into a verbal rage over what his life had become and how unfair it was. And what do you say in response to that? Because it was unfair and cruel and just profoundly wrong.

And one day he needed something from home brought out to him and I volunteered to do it. And I actually had a really good visit with him. I mean, by this point, it was typical just to bring him what he wanted, talk for maybe a minute or two, then leave either before he got angry or because he just had gotten angry and verbally abusive.

But on this particular occasion, I stayed for about an hour, and we talked, mostly about music, and I had a really pleasant visit with him.

And of course it was just a few weeks after this that he hanged himself and died ... two days after his 30th birthday, the promised miracle drug having never arrived.

And my greatest regret in life is that, while Frank was alive, I never really told him what he meant to me. Not even in that last conversation, which I, of course, did not know would be our last.

But he was just this great older brother, and as a kid I really looked up to him, because he was never mean-spirited like a lot of older brothers, and he was protective of us and he was just incredibly generous — he'd regularly go through his stack of old 45s, for example, and determine which songs he now had on albums and then give the duplicate 45s to either me or one of my other siblings; and I remember specifically, in 1968, he gave me his 45 of The Who's "I Can See For Miles" b/w "Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand" — and he did all of this while suffering incredibly and suffering silently and suffering alone.

And I never got around to just saying to him while he was alive, "Frank, I love you."
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Added a little later:

We buried Frankie with the sheet music to this song (below) because he used to play The Who By Numbers, and this song in particular, over and over.

And I distinctly remember my sister Virginia's reading the lyrics to "Slip Kid" to herself just before Frank's viewing and remarking how appropriate they seemed as a summation of Frank's life: